What's a Desktop Mutoscope?
Mutoscopes were an early motion picture device patented in 1894. Think of a flip book but the pages are connected around a wheel in an endless loop. Popular before movies could be projected, mutoscopes could only be viewed by one person at a time. They were popular in arcades.
Joe Freedman developed a small version of the mutoscope with only 36 cards. This machine, which he called a Retroscope, was widely exhibited in 2004. There had been quite a few small toy mutoscopes before the Retroscope but almost all of them hid the cards inside a box containing the mechanism with only a tiny window to view the movie. Back in the old days boxes were magical and mysterious. The user would approach the box and look through an opening to see the magic of motion. Joe's idea was that we have lots of magical boxes nowadays in the form of electronic devices. Its more amazing to be able to see the cards go around. The magic is completely apparent which makes it even more puzzling.
Joe wanted to revisit the Retrosope after seeing Anna's work on thisiscolossal.com. For smoother animation In this updated version he managed to pack in 60 cards using a 3d printed reel.
About Anna Taberko
Anna Taberko is an animator based in Minnesota. Her work consists of blooming flowers, swirling insects, and animals. These animated loops are inspired by the phenakistoscope optical toy. This early toy placed drawings on a circular disk that was viewed through a slit. Anna's looping animation, like the phenakistoscope, is able to capture illustrations in a constant state of motion, whether they're moving or standing still.
Limited Analog Edition
Anna's wonderful animations are available on her website and on other sites such as thisiscolossal. You can experience them on computers, phones, and tablets. They are smoothly beautiful wonderful looped animations. Or you can opt for this collector's edition analog version. You'll get to actively engage it by turning the crank. Turn the handle slowly to see the animations proceed. Or blaze along and get lost in the swirl of motion. It will sit patiently on your desk or bookshelf awaiting your attention. No beeps or notifications. It will only function when you engage with it.
Here are movies of the seven animations. After the campaign is over you'll be able to choose which of the seven you want. Or you can sign up for "The Complete Set" and get all seven desktop mutoscopes.
The real secret to every mutoscope is the reel. How do you hold the cards onto the reel? The cards need to bend but they also have to snap to create the persistence of vision. Our previous reel was laser cut with a slot to hold the paper tab. Using a 3d printer we are able to have a channel with a slot at the end. The tab holds the card in place while the channel directs the snap when the card needs to be in a vertical position against the stop plates. Here is the Prusa i3 printer making one side of the reel.
I need to laser cut the cards so they will have a tab to go into the slot in the reel.
I love how much high tech stuff goes into making our primitive machine!
Risks and challenges
All the parts for this Desktop Mutoscope have been produced already or will be made in-house with the exception of the printed cards. The paper covered binders board boxes are already on hand. 3d printing the handle and reel takes over 7 hours for each mutoscope but we have already started to produce the reels and will continue to do so while the campaign is underway. The printing and laser cutting of the cards will have to wait until backers have selected their animation. The survey will go out one week after the campaign is complete. Once we know the quantity of each of the animations the cards can be printed and laser cut.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (20 days)